If you think that Puerto Iguazú in Argentina is a very organized little village...
If you think that Foz do Iguazú in Brazil is a bit crazy...
...then Ciudad del Este in Paraguay is definitely hardchore!
For the Argentinians and the Brazilians that live in border land Ciudad del Este is a big shopping centre. Or, as the Brazilian lady (that had ancestors in Germany and spoke to me in a funny mixture of Portugese and old-style German Schwäbisch dialect) I met on the bus back from Paraguay mentioned: “Everything is a lot cheaper in Paraguay, we buy everything there and you can even buy things there that you can’t find in Brazil. My friend just bought some stuff for her kitchen. Only for gas we go to Argentina because it is a lot cheaper there.”
Ciudad del Este starts where the Friendship Bridge over the border river ends: a big, crazy, dirty and dusty market: The streets are jammed with cars, motorbikes, buses, lorries and people of all ages selling everything.
Within 50 years Foz do Iguazú grew from a city of 25.000 inhabitants to a conglomerate of about 250.000 people.
Within 50 years Ciudad del
Este grew out of nothing to a city of around 275.000 inhabitants.
If the people in the Brazilian favelas live in houses made of bricks, the poor in Ciudad del Este live in plastic bags.
Even though I can say that I have traveled quite a bit around this planet, Ciudad del Este was kind of a cultural shock for me. In a way I felt quite released once I crossed the Friendship Bridge and was back in Foz. Crossing the border back to Brazil took 3 hours. ;o)
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